Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving” ~ Terry Pratchett.

If you’ve ever lived abroad, you’re bound to notice differences in even the smallest of things when you finally return back home. These smaller “first world problems” might be enough to make you groan but there are also meaningful dilemmas that may be reason for you to convince othersย why they should never become an expat.

For now I’ll be addressing the smaller, first world problems.

When an opportunity arose for me to move to Wellington, New Zealand I literally jumped at it. I got so used to living there after 8 months that I almost forgot what life was like back home in Australia. Really! I’ve written about my experience and why earthquakes can be likened to your little brother.

Compared to others I know spending 8 months abroad is not a long time, although it was to me. But why? How is living abroad different to living at home?

Here are 12 surprising problems I was confronted with on my arrival home that meant I’d been away for too long. Maybe you’ll able to relate to these too, particularly if your trip was for business and you were fortunate enough to be put up in a hotel or serviced apartment for an extended period.

๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ”ตย RELATED: What’s it really like Living in Wellington?

Wellington Harbour
Wellington Harbour, New Zealand – It’s easy to miss walking outside and seeing this view

You know youโ€™ve been living abroad too long when you come home and you suddenly realiseโ€ฆ

#1 Youโ€™re slammingย everything

Doors, kitchen cupboards and drawers in your home get a brutal treatment in the first few days because the ones you got used to needed more force to close.ย You also try opening these things in the wrong areas.

#2ย You have a new appreciation for sharp knives and decent cookware

Seriously, some of the communal kitchen equipment in hotels and serviced apartments completely ruins my day.

Having decent cookware at home is almost heavenly

#3ย Your TV and fridge are suddenly giant

Compared to the size of hotel ones, since when was your old TV like being at the movie theatre?! You also realise you should win some kind of international Tetris award for the way you got used to squeezing your grocery shopping into a fridge not too much bigger than a mini-bar one ๐Ÿ†

#4ย There’s awkward waking moments

That split second you think youโ€™re still in your abroad bedroom when you wake up. It’s surreal in the first few mornings as your brain doesn’t quite register where you are, you’ve been living abroad too long.

#5ย You have teleporting doorhandles

Some kind of fairy has shifted all the doorhandles in your home down several inches during your absence.

#6ย Your home appliances are actually simple

Suddenly your microwave is easier to use than you previously thought, due to the weird buttons and sequences required on your hotel one. This also applies to white goods. Who knew you needed a zillion different buttons to get a clothes dryer working?

I’d spend days at the beach in Wellington where the temperature was nowhere near what I’d usually need to visit back home

๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ”ตย RELATED: Traveller Stereotypes: What’s an Invisible Tourist? (Part 1)

#7ย You’re no longer royalty

Having frequent housekeeping made you feel like you belonged in some sort of Royal Family. Those days are now over and you need to clean up after yourself. Ha.

#8ย You’re confusing your cupboards

You forgot what supplies you have in your home cupboards as you mix them up with the recent stuff you had abroad.

#9ย You feel like a foreigner in your home city

For me, coming back home to Australia and hearing Aussie accents again unexpectedly made everyone sound bogan

It takes a little while to tune back in to your home language – what does all this mean, again??

#10ย Realise the same temperature can feel drastically different

For instance, 18ยฐC/64ยฐF may usually be quite a warm day where you were living abroad. If you’ve returned home to a country with quite high humidity you’ve probably forgotten thatย 18ยฐC/64ยฐF is actually bloody freezing! Time to dig out those Ugg boots instead of throwing on a t-shirt.

#11ย It takes a while to get used to your home currency again

Until now you didn’t notice some coins from home were large enough to be used as doorstops… Or that awkward moment when you say to the cashier “Oh, I’ve got that extra dollar” when you’re sifting through your wallet for change but the currency you’re meant to be using is the Euro or other currency. It’s the little thingsย ๐Ÿ˜†

#12ย You’re disappointed to do the grocery shopping

The chocolate, cheese and cider you fell in love with abroad isn’t available in your local supermarket at home. Sigh.

๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ”ตย RELATED: My Ultimate Mid Range Travel Resources

Exclusive Treats
Why oh whyyy are these exclusive to my abroad country?? ๐Ÿ˜ญ

These 12 signs are just a few that greeted me when I tried to get back to normal life in my home country. Do you have any others that could be added to this list? What things surprised you? I’d love to hear what you noticed when you moved back home!

If you found this more relatable than you thought you would, please share it toย Facebookย orย Pinterestย ๐Ÿ˜Šย You can also follow me onย Instagramย for more travel stories!

Until next time,

The Invisible Tourist

Like It? Pin It! ๐Ÿ“Œ

12 Surprising Signs That Mean You've Been Living Abroad Too Long

Like what you see? โœ…ย Sign up for my latest updates and FREE goodies!


Alyse has spent 9 years travelling "The Invisible Tourist Way" and hopes to encourage fellow travellers to do so, too. A professional language hoarder, she can usually be found burying herself in travel books and Wikipedia articles. Her dreams? Always about the next destination and how to make the most of the experience.


  1. Haha I agree with so many of these points. Some Aussie accents still make me wince, despite the fact that I’ve been home for months now. And the first thing I did was rush out and buy decent knives!

    • The Invisible Tourist
      The Invisible Tourist Reply

      Glad you can relate, LC! Lol about the knives, isn’t it funny… Sometimes you don’t appreciate the small things you had until they’re gone!

Write A Comment